My new neuropsych is very, very different from my last one. They seem to relish the work of coming to terms with loss and pain and all that stuff. Ouch.
This is a very, very different focus than I had with my last neuropsych.
The last doctor I was working with really kept the emphasis on staying positive and not getting myself mired in all kinds of perceptions about misfortune. And while I did find that focus a bit annoying at times — considering how much difficulty I was having with some things — now I realize just how useful it was.
And I need to set that tone with my new NP.
It’s so very, very important for me to stay positive throughout my days, and not allow myself to wallow. It’s just not healthy, and it doesn’t do much for me. If anything, it just drags me down for days on end.
I’ve spent too much time getting mired in all that old stuff. And no matter how hard I work at “coming to terms with it”, that doesn’t change the fact that it happened, that it sucked, and that it hurts.
I’m not saying I’m into avoiding it or never facing it. I just don’t see the point in making it the central part of my life. It was, once upon a time, for far too long.
Okay, I’ve disconnected this blog from my Twitter account, so that makes things simpler. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… they all have their different rules for how to format your writing so that you can get visibility, and I just don’t have the time (or interest) for doing anything special, other than writing.
I have no desire to accommodate other “platforms”. I have no desire to use/create hashtags, so I can be in on the larger conversation. The larger conversation tends to not be a conversation at all — rather, a shouting match. Especially with all the events of the past week.
Count me outof that particular exchange.
What we need now, more than anything, is a lot less yelling, a lot less attacking, a lot less blowing people up over differences of opinion. Whether it’s literal or metaphorical, trying to destroy other people never, ever has the intended results. If anything, it just makes things worse and perpetuates the exact problems we’re grappling with, to begin with.
It’s just common sense that a living, breathing human being who is attacked, is going to strike back. So, why would we think that attacking our enemies — even with a superior show of strength — is going to settle the matter? Those attacks can be with bombs or words or social policy, but in whatever form, they strike at the humanity of others and threaten their existence.
What do people do when you threaten them? What do they do when you humiliate them? What do they do when you blow them and their families up? They fight back. Of course they do. We do it, too. No self-respecting individual or culture is going to just roll over because someone overpowers them at one point in time. Things change. Power shifts. Someone takes control of an arsenal of weapons that used to belong to someone else, and the balance of power shifts against whoever was the aggressor, the last time.
Fantasizing that it’s anything different from that, is not helping, in the current “wartime” situation.
All our our intentions to “settle the matter once and for all” do nothing of the kind. What do we think? That others are just going to sit back and say, “Oh, you’re right – you’re muchstronger than we are, so we’re not going to do anything to you anymore! You’re the MAN!!” ….? Have we lost our minds? No self-respecting individual is going to do or say that — and mean it. They may pretend to surrender, they may retreat for a while, but they’ll be back later to try to hurt us again. And there will be someone out there who’s willing to sell them all the right weapons to do exactly that. That’s just human nature, and anybody who thinks that shock-and-awe force will “settle” any issue for all time, has not been paying attention to, oh… just a few millennia of human experience and history. Even looking at the past 20 years will show you that.
Of course, if you’re in the arms business, life is pretty sweet, right now. So, it’s not all bad — for some people, anyway. I’m sure there are plenty of mutual funds out there that are invested in arms manufacturing, which means all the retired school teachers and civil servants and countless folks drawing on their 401(k)s can avoid eating dog food and living in a cardboard box under an overpass for at least a few more years. It’s all interconnected, and we’re all complicit in this arrangement. As long as any (all) of us are benefiting from our perpetual state of war, there’s only so much we can say about it. Even if you move off the grid, you’re still probably going to be using things that were created, thanks to the system we all live in. So, none of us is without blame in creating this situation.
Of course, I’m never going to convince the People In Charge that running around blowing up your opponents is going to solve anything. Everybody who talks in these terms just looks like a bit of a passive, utopian twit on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or whatever social media outlet they prefer. In these days of escalation, anyone who talks about de-escalation seems soft and out-of-touch with the necessities of the situation. Blinded. We’re all blinded by trauma and passion, and even though I agree with the words posted about how to relieve conditions of war, all those pictures of East-Asian gods and goddesses and the Dhali Lama just make me angry.
As far as I’m concerned, the only thing for me to do is get out of my head. Get out of my fear and anxiety, to just get on with my life. Get active. Live my life. Live it fully. Don’t sit and stew. Get going and take positive action.
“No harm, no foul,” seems like a pretty good philosophy and life approach to me.
It’s about not letting myself be harmed by what others do. They will do what they please, and they won’t necessarily give a damn about how it affects me. It’s often up to me, to decide what I’ll do with the experience — if I’ll get carried away by insult and perceived hurt, or if I’ll let it slide and get on with my life. There are many, many things that are done “to” me, that I can either notice and turn into a terrible offense… or I can just ignore them as moments of stupidity that mindless people are doing because they don’t know any better. It’s my choice, what I do with all that.
Probably the best thing that anyone can do these days, is do no harm. That, and make a positive difference in the world. Pay close and considerate attention to what’s going on around you, so you can be strong from moment to moment. Be alert to opportunities to be a little better at what you do than you were, just a moment before. So many things are happening at a “macro” level that are beyond our influence and understanding. There is so much we do not know, so much we cannot control. What we can control is how we relate to others… how we take care of ourselves… how we mind our own behavior and keep it as clean as possible.
There is only so much we can influence, on a day to day basis. But the things we can influence for the better, could make all the difference in someone’s life, or a troubling situation that has the possibility of escalating.
I have to admit that, for myself, I bear a lot of responsibility for having caused others harm. Many times in my life (usually shortly after a TBI, or later on because of brain injury and PTSD), I struck out and harmed others. I broke things. I attacked people. I did my share of damage, being deliberately hurtful — because I, myself, was in pain. For many, many years, this went on. Hurting people — family, friends, loved-ones… saying and doing the kinds of things that were intended to cause pain — to make sure I wasn’t the only one who was hurting.
I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing, when I was doing it. And while I was doing the damage, I believed I was entitled to do it, because, well, I was hurting. And I needed some relief. Hurting others was the only way I knew how to relieve that pain, that hurt. It was the only way I could figure out how to not be the only one in the room in excruciating discomfort.
And it took a toll. It trashed so many friendships, so many relationships that have not been able to recover in many, many years — even after I got my act together. There is little to no trust between myself and some of my siblings. There are old, once-close friends I have not spoken to in 25 years. There were family members who had to turn their backs on me, for their own sake, and who died before I could make amends. My past is littered with broken relationships and fractured trust. I am still paying for it, and some debts I will never get to repay.
Which is why I now feel like the best thing I can do, really, is be kind. Be gentle. Be generous. Be strong. Be fierce, when it’s called for, but don’t let that be my default mode. There’s a difference between being a pushover, and standing your ground firmly with a disarming smile on your face. The people who can do the latter are the true bad-asses of the world.
And that’s what I strive for: To stand firmly, but to not let others get the better of me because I’m an easy mark. Also, to not be a mindless jerk who unconsciously messes with other people. Being aware of my surroundings and responding as who I am, rather than what the situation turns me into, is a true martial art. Being able to absorb the hits of the world, and not fall to pieces… not take it out on others… that’s my ideal. When I can do that — just let the world be its crazy place, deflect its blows,and keep going with my life, calm and collected — there need not be any blood, there need not be any foul.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
It just means that I don’t hurt others, as a result of my own pain.
This vacation is turning out to be pretty amazing. I’m still a far cry from being fully rested, or getting a full night’s sleep. I’ve been up late every night, under the clear night sky filled with stars, just being. Not doing. Just being. Sitting on the beach till midnight, tending a fire. Swimming in the ocean at midnight with a friend. Listening to the waves coming and going and letting go of a lot of old “stuff” that has bogged me down.
A few days ago, when I was so very tired from entertaining the lamprey house-guest, I got really caught up in some old “blame games” with my spouse. We’re lying on the beach under a clear sky, not a trouble in sight, and a lot of old resentments started to bubble up. It was definitely withdrawal from the energy I had to expend on the lamprey house-guest — and I was tired, so very tired, and agitated, too.
About an hour of an otherwise perfect day was spent hashing and re-hashing a handful of old hurts, which I now realize may not even be valid. I realize now that my addled mind got paranoid and had it in my head that some terrible betrayal was done to me… when what I have been imagining and getting resentful about may have never happened at all.
Then again, there’s a chance that it did happen, that a terrible injustice was done to me… and I would be “justified” in being hurt and angry.
But focusing on that imagined condition at that point in time, when it was not happening, and in fact it was old news… and it was a gorgeous day with ample time to rest and relax… it just didn’t make any sense. I was ruining my present moment with something in the past that might never have been real.
So, I decided to just let it go. Just. Let. It. Go. There’s no point in hanging onto that old stuff — it just keeps me from being present to, well, the present. And it gums up my system with all sorts of biochemical sludge that I then have to remove at a later time with a lot of extra work and attention.
It’s easier to just let it go from the get-go, and not get into it. Of course, take care of myself and stand up for myself, and not let people walk all over me. But not get mired in the past, when the present is calling.
We humans are funny creatures, sometimes. We need to feel validated and we need to feel like we matter. And when we get hurt, we need someone to see and recognize that. For some reason, it makes us feel better. The problems start, when we get so bogged down in that needing to be seen and recognized and appreciated, that we “take up residence” in our hurts and frustrations and pain, and we drag everyone around us down into that quicksand of pain and suffering.
We want to be seen and recognized. We want our pain and sacrifice to be appreciated and acknowledged. But then our entire lives can end up revolving around that pain and sacrifice, to the point where it gets blown up into The Main Event of our lives. We can get addicted to the thrill of disclosure, as well as the rush that comes from talking about what bad things have happened to us… and that just pulls everyone down — including ourselves.
So, I decided a few days ago to just let it go. Just live as though it had never happened. Let the bad decisions and perceived betrayals and the hurts and injuries just fade into the background… like the invented thought-forms they are. Our perceptions of life and experience are so subjective, we can make of them what we want. And once they’re over and done, they are over and done. It’s just how we “curate” them in our minds that causes us pain — how we hang onto them and nurse them back to health, just when they’re about to die out and disappear.
And what I discovered years ago, is that if I decide to live and act as though what happened has dissolved into thin air, and I choose to think and feel as though the exact opposite occurred, I can turn around my mindset and change the course of my life.
It’s not pretending something never happened. It’s not denial. It’s refusing to let unhappy events of the past continue to live beyond their “expiration date”. It’s like putting “Use By” labels on my experience, and once that date has passed, I stop opening up the old memory containers, because I know the insides are going to be spoiled and smell really awful.
So, since that moment when I decided to let that old sh*t go, I haven’t been bothered by it. Even in the moments when things have gotten weird and tense inside my head, and I’ve had time on my hands to perseverate about bad things that happened in the past, I haven’t done it. I’ve literally just let it go.
And it occurs to me that so much of what we do in our own heads is just that — picking and choosing what we are going to focus on, and making that rule our lives and set the tone for our experience. The fact of the matter is, I’m really tired and feeling sick most of the time. My sensitivities are making me touchy and jumpy and hard to live with. And I’m in pain. But I don’t have to let those passing experiences take over my life. Every new moment is a new opportunity to experience and think and feel something completely different — something completely better.
So that’s what I’m choosing. It takes practice, and old habits of mind are hard to break — especially when they are connected with physical experience — but it’s possible. It’s very do-able.
And that’s what I’m practicing. That’s what I’m doing. I’m just dropping that old crap and moving on, using my mind to steer clear of letting my body drag me down. And in the process, my body actually starts to feel better. Sometimes. Other times, not. But whatever. At least my mind is freed.
dealing with behavioral health issues from closed head injury
mental disordes from brain injury
restoration of self after traumatic brain injury
stress effecting performance
can avoidance emotinal numbing ptsd symptoms end a relationship?
self part of brain
So far today, 17 people have searched on these combinations of words — 5 of them about road rage. And it’s early, yet.
I wish I could see the time of day people are searching – I suspect it’s late at night, after everyone has gone to bed. They are thinking back on their day and the close call(s) they had while they were driving, wondering if their freak-outs had anything to do with their head injuries/concussions. Maybe they were going to work. Maybe they were coming back from work. All they know is, they flipped out and almost lost it behind the wheel of the car.
While it was happening, it felt so normal, it felt so right, it felt so justified.
But after the dust has settled, and they look back on the incident from a distance (and after a good meal), they realize that their reaction was wildly out of proportion to what actually happened. Somebody cut them off once too often. Somebody else wasn’t paying attention and did something bone-headed. And they could have killed them. Literally.
Is a stupid-ass move on the interstate worth pulling hard jail time?
You be the judge.
Anyway, yeah… behavioral health issues from closed head injury… When I think about it, the real problem factor is the “closed” aspect — in part, because a closed head injury isn’t obvious, like a broken leg dangling limply, or a ragged gash across the face. It’s hidden — from everyone — and it’s damned hard to manage. Believe me. Closed head injury is no piece of cake, especially for the survivor. Our brains can be pretty convinced they’re right, when they are anything but. And no one can tell us anything, because we’re so convinced that this right feeling is a right being. It’s not, but we often don’t realize it till much later.
And after the damage is done.
There’s another “closed” part of the troubled TBI dynamic that’s problematic, too — the closed minds of people all around us. The people who either make up their minds that you’re deficient and damaged and you’re not going to get any better… or the people who are closed to the idea that you need to do things differently in your life, like get to bed at a decent hour or have a conversation about what needs to be done, that’s more in-depth than a handful of instructions/commands/demands… or the people who are afraid of their own human frailty and marginalize you because you’re different and you remind them that they are not omnipotent.
The more I read and the more I look around and the more I think about things, the more I’m convinced that social isolation is one of the worst things you can do to a closed head injury survivor. Or any injury survivor, really. But especially TBI survivors. Because we need to be “in the mix” with other people. We need to be involved. We need to be able to watch other people and remember/re-learn how to act. We need to be able to interact with other people and take cues and close from them. We need to remember what is “normal” and practice at it. We’re not lost causes — unless everyone (including us) gives up on us.
Practice, practice, practice. With other people. Build up the connections in our bodies and minds that help us conduct ourselves as regular folks. Re-knit the synapses of our brains and re-establish connections that restore our sense of selves. Our sense of self is a funny thing — it’s often best defined in relation to others. So that we can only be truly unique and original when we are surrounded by other people who are like us, but yet very different.
But when we’ve got these behavioral problems — which are so very often triggered by physical issues that nobody can see — it’s tough to hold your own in the company of others. We get tired, because we have to work so hard at simple things, and we may have to work harder to keep our balance, deal with hyper-sensitive senses, or adjust for changes in our speed of processing. And when we get tired, we get irritable. And/or our attention wanders. And/or we get agitated. And we start to act out. We speak out of turn. We strike out at perceived threats. We snap at the ones we love, we chew out our co-workers. We think we’re standing up for ourselves, but we’re launching offensives against people and events that may pose no real threat to us at all. We just think they do. We get scared. We get confused. We’re all amped up on adrenaline, and we fly into a rage like a fighter pilot taking off from an aircraft carrier. We ride the anger roller-coaster. We jump on the temper train and take off for the frontier, six guns shooting all the way.
And because the people around us very rarely appreciate our situation — or if they do, they just forget — we end up looking like friggin’ idiots and imbeciles. Which doesn’t help our case, even if we have a justifiable right to be angry and upset.
So much for social integration.
Especially if you’re surrounded by people who have a lot invested in playing it cool. Who insist on everyone being smooth and chill and controlled. They need this veneer, this packaging, this mythic strength about them and everyone around them that instills confidence, even if there’s no justifiable reason for that confidence. They pour all of their energy into coming across a certain way, and expecting everyone around them to do the same. If there are any cracks in the armor, it spells trouble. They lose confidence. Quickly. And then all seems lost.
What’s amazing to me, is how un-real so many people in the world are… How they build their entire lives around playing roles of the cool folks, the most popular kids in high school, and even when they mess up, they never admit it — they either cover it up or deny it completely. They just won’t let their guard down for a moment. Because then the jig would be up, and they’d be found out for who they are — people just like everyone else. Pretty lonely, actually. And closed. Closed to the full range of human experience and emotion and evolution.
This is the “closed” part that hurts us the most — the smallness of the minds of so many. We may have had closed head injuries, but so many people willingly close their perfectly functional minds to the vast possibilities out there. And not only do they distance themselves from people around them and make it harder for all of us to just be who we are, but they also cheat themselves of the full range of life, imprisoned in their own definitions of what is and is not acceptable.
But when I think about it, it seems to me that these folks — the closed ones — are probably as hungry for acceptance and freedom as anyone else. They are that way for a reason. Perhaps because others have ridiculed them or made life difficult for them. Maybe they’re short. Maybe they’re not beautiful. Maybe their parents were cruel to them. Maybe they’re sensitive and have been hurt too many times by bullies. Maybe the only way they can really survive in the world, is to be that way — closed. Who am I to judge?
All I know is, being closed doesn’t help any of us. We have all been hurt. We’ve all been injured in some way or another. And we can all use some generosity of spirit and help, as we go about our lives.
dealing with behavioral health issues from closed head injury… it’s always a challenge. But it can get better. The main thing to remember is that anxiety and stress and pressure don’t help the situation. The first thing to do, with TBI, is reduce the stress, take the pressure off, ease off the adrenalin accelerator, and quit being so hard on yourself. Learn to laugh at the things you do, and they will no longer rule your life. We tend to take things so seriously, we TBI survivors, and we see such gravity in everything. Every event can seem momentous and earth-shaking, but it ain’t always so, and the sooner we learn to lighten up, the quicker we’ll find our wings.
If nothing else, remember – you are not alone. Plenty of other people feel the way you do, and they manage to make it through somehow. TBI isn’t the end of the world, and neither is a temporary overdose of gravity. Behavioral problems come and go, and our health is often relative. If we can just be grateful for the good we have in our lives and focus on that, it can help a great deal. And if we can get some extra rest to take the edge off our sleep-deprived agitation and ease our exhaustion-related behavioral issues, all the better.
I recently read a statement that the human condition with its ups and downs is a lot like the weather — seasons come and go, passions rise and fall like floods during summer storms. Weather comes and goes. That’s just what it does.
And yet we survive. Look around. We’re still here — and that’s pretty amazing.